Warning: This story contains information that some readers may find disturbing.
This story has been updated to include more information from Friday’s sentencing.
Kevin Lee Barrett was sentenced on Friday (Jan. 29) in a Kelowna Supreme Court to six years behind bars, minus time served, for viciously assaulting his mother and abandoning her on a West Kelowna service road.
In custody since the night of the incident on April 29, 2019, the 61-year-old West Kelowna man has 1,291 days remaining to serve in prison.
Barrett was accused of attempted murder and aggravated assault of his mother, Eleanor Holmes. Earlier this week, on the seventh day of trial, Barrett entered a late guilty plea to the lesser charge he was facing of aggravated assault.
Calling the case “very sad,” Supreme Court Justice Steven Wilson found Barrett guilty of aggravated assault.
“This was a terrifying attack by a larger man on a defenceless and unsuspecting victim, made all the worse by the fact the victim was his mother – the one person in his family who would continue to support him, and maintain a relationship with him when all others refused,” said Wilson.
Wilson found that on the night of the attack, Holmes refused to let Barrett drive her vehicle. Barrett then ‘viciously’ beat Holmes, drove her vehicle 15 kilometres up a service road and dumped her in a ditch.
“He pulled her into the passenger side of the vehicle, pushed her down into the foot-well, whereupon he struck her both with his fists and a blunt object. He ripped out hands full of her hair and threw her dentures out of the vehicle. He bit a chunk from her hand and attempted strangulation with the seatbelt. He then drove her in the vehicle into a remote wooded area, removed her shoes, took her cell phone and rolled her down an embankment and into a ravine, and drove away,” Wilson stated.
Barrett then drove back to town, bought an ice cream and continued on with ‘daily life’. In the meantime, Holmes managed to pull herself out of the ditch, sat on the side of the road while covered in blood, where she was discovered by two passersby.
“It was therefore only as a result of her resilience and strength, and perhaps some good fortune to the extent that two people happened to be on the remote forest service road that evening, that Ms. Holmes was able to obtain assistance,” stated Wilson, adding Barrett made no attempts to help her.
Later, when RCMP arrested Barrett at his mother’s home, he asked officers as they were driving him away if they had found his mother on the mountain.
Holmes, 79 years old at the time of the attack, told the court in a statement she loves and forgives but remains terrified of Barrett. The safety of her, as well as the public, was taken into consideration during sentencing.
Wilson stated that while physical injuries have mostly healed, psychological consequences to Holmes, “will undoubtedly have lingered.”
Barrett was found to suffer from mental health issues, including bipolar disorder, the medication for which he sometimes neglects. Many times, Barrett has found himself in the psychiatric unit of the Kelowna General Hospital. He is prone to violent and unpredictable outbursts.
“His mental health issues have been a feature of his entire adult life,” said Wilson.
The Crown originally argued for eight-to-nine years imprisonment. The defence argued for four-and-a-half years, plus three years probation, something Wilson found to be inadequate.
Barrett’s guilty plea, although late in the trial, was taken into consideration, as it spared Holmes from having to testify before the court.
While serving his time behind bars, Barrett is prohibited from communicating with Holmes. He was also served a lifetime ban from prohibited firearms or weapons.
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